The comments on my various posts by Shoshi have been disturbing and have put me on edge (maybe that's a good thing.) I feel painted as the evil, selfish husband who nags his wife to death with his unending tirades. Hold on to your seat belts, I have one more, and this one is probably big.
I believe my responsibilities as a husband consist of the following things: minyan, work, caring/helpful husband/father. This morning I blew the word "caring" out of the water.
My wife and I have been discussing what is important for her to have done in the house: mother, maintain clean home, clothes, food. After tripping over clean clothes she has not yet gone through for over a week now and being annoyed that I have to fight with her to get the laundry done so that I can have clean undergarments and shirts to wear to work, I stumbled to minyan wearing the same pants I wore yesterday.
Looking the rabbi in the eye this morning from across the room, I could tell he was wondering why I was late *again*. I wished he knew how difficult it is in my life to have things in order and I wish he knew how disorderly everything is in my life. I wanted to cry.
I came home, entered the house and saw that the kitchen light was on. I was happy about this because my wife and I had a fight yesterday after her not waking up for the umpteenth time to make lunch, one of her responsibilities (don't ask me why, that's just the way it has been -- on that note, I have suggested to her a million times that it would be easier on her if she only made lunch once a week, such as on a Sunday, and then just make a number of portions.) Knowing that she had a midwife appointment, I decided to surprise her by moving the baby's car seat into the other car without her having to ask me; I did this quietly so that when she would ask me, it would already be done. When I came back into the house, I noticed that the kitchen was empty. She wasn't even awake.
A bit confused, but slightly annoyed, I wondered to myself why she only reacts to a fight and ignores everything I say otherwise. I gathered my things for work, and without eating breakfast, I wanted to just leave. She woke up and came out of the bedroom with the baby, took one look at me, and noticed that I was upset again. I left without saying a word, without breakfast, and again, without her making me lunch. I slammed the door on the way out for the first time in our marriage.
Waiting for her call to remind me not to take the good car because of her appointment, I heard nothing from her. Now even more upset that she didn't even remember her own appointment, I drove to work. She called a few minutes later, but I didn't answer, thinking, "you treat me as if I am single, I'll let you figure out for yourself which car I took and whether I moved the car seat." A few seconds later, I gave in and called her back just in case it was important and just in case she needed something, and she picked up in a cute voice saying, "you're not allowed to leave the house without saying goodbye."
[I HATE BEING ANGRY, yet I hate even more being angry over the SAME PROBLEMS EVERY DAY. Whether it's the cleaning, the laundry, the food (or the lack thereof), I have spoken to my Rabbi many times telling him I just want to take over these things because I hate waiting for her to do them. He has told me that "this would be a very bad idea for the sole reason that you will resent her for not doing them and thus it will cause a shalom-bayis issue between you." You have no idea how many times I have wanted to TAKE OVER these responsibilities of hers, but I have held back so many times and have waited for her to do her part.]
Sitting in the car fuming from anger, I drove to work. When I got close to work, I called her calmly to ask her if she even knew why I was upset at her. She knew, but then did not take responsibility for her not doing what she was supposed to do and instead, she turned it on me that its ugly for me to be angry at her. This really annoyed me.
I raised my voice (with a loud pleading voice rather than a shouting or yelling voice) and I told her that I HATE being angry. I hate seeing the same things not done every day, and I hate having the same fights with her every day. I wanted to tell her that it was her fault I was angry but let's be real -- I was choosing to be angry because while it sapped my energy and hurt my heart and my chest and made me cry to do so, I felt it was the only thing that she responds to. At that point, she started nit-picking defenses, and I got annoyed at her again. "She's not even listening," I thought. I tell her five things that are not done, and she focuses the argument on the one thing she did yesterday when the point is the FIVE things that GENERALLY ARE NOT DONE EVER.
During the fight, I realized that she was getting upset and/or hurt which meant that for once, she was not just shutting down and putting up a wall the way she usually does when I say something critical to her, but that what I was saying was actually getting through. At that point, fearing a tear, I backed off and ended the conversation.
So that was our fight. It should be noted that the content of our fight was not over the laundry or the food or the lunch or the cleaning, etc., it was over her not taking an active role in our life together and treating life as if it were a vacation while shirking her responsibilities. Case in point, I was upset at her for not taking the initiative on so many areas of our life that she promised that she would and that I was relying on her to take the initiative, such as in the areas of 1) her finding a job, 2) her doing research on real estate and foreclosures for us to buy our first investment home, 3) things that we agreed that we would do together (e.g. she wanted to take the introduction to computer science online courses with me), and I am finding that I am doing them alone, and 4) taking the initiative on things that should be done to move our family forward, such as writing a check to pay the parking ticket she got a few weeks ago and that I've been hounding her to pay, etc.
At this point I honestly don't know what to do. I hate being angry, yet I hate living my life the way it is. I really want to do the laundry and all the other chores on my own without her, but then what point is there to being married? I MEAN, WE EACH HAVE OUR OWN RESPONSIBILITIES, AND IT WOULD BE HURTFUL TO OUR MARRIAGE FOR ME TO STEP ON HER TOES AND TO TAKE AWAY HER RESPONSIBILITIES BECAUSE I WOULD HATE HER FOR LETTING ME TAKE THEM FROM HER. LIFE IS NOT A FREE-FOR-ALL, AND I FEEL AS IF SHE DOESN'T DO HER PART. IN OUR MANY CONVERSATIONS, THERE WERE THINGS THAT WE BOTH SAID WERE IMPORTANT FOR THE OTHER TO DO (RESPONSIBILITIES), AND I AM DOING ALL OF MINE AND SHE IS BARELY DOING MANY OF HERS AND I FEEL THIS IS NOT FAIR.
When I come home from work every evening exhausted, I don't sit down in front of a TV and veg out. Instead, I spend time with my wife and my son, I talk to them, I play with them, and I often help her put him to sleep, spending close to 20 minutes holding my son's hand before he falls asleep. At that point, aside from doing some minor chores or helping my wife out with something, I feel that my day is over BECAUSE I HAVE FULFILLED MY RESPONSIBILITIES. I feel that I have earned the right to sit down with a book or to open my textbooks and start doing schoolwork or learning something.
If you think I am selfish for this and for wanting her to have finished her part of the bargain by doing her responsibilities, I think you are wrong. There is nothing I want more than to sit down with her lovingly and to pay attention to her and love her for the rest of the evening, and I usually do turning a blind-eye towards the things that have not been done. But after a while, some things can just no longer be ignored.